Written by Simon Nagel (RockHome Los Angeles Instructor)
The 60’s are undeniably one of the most important eras in rock n’ roll history. Had it not been for that decade, some of the world’s most iconic groups such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, and The Beach Boys may not be the household names they are today.
A phenomenon occurred in the early 1960’s known as The British Invasion. On February 7th, 1964, The Beatles flew from the United Kingdom and landed in America at the JFK airport in New York where they were greeted by an estimated 3,000 fans. Two days later, the band gave their debut television performance on The Ed Sullivan Show and were watched by an estimated 73 million viewers. The Beatles were a sensation in America; it was something that hadn’t been experienced before in popular music, especially not from a band from over seas. The four piece band from the UK took America and the rest of the world by storm during this time period.
The next biggest group that came out of The British Invasion were from London, England and called themselves The Rolling Stones. This band was instrumental in making blues a major part of rock n’ roll music. While The Beatles were looked at as more of a pop sensation, The Rolling Stones were seen as a grittier rock group. Both groups, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, have produced timeless music and classic hits that will never be forgotten.
Another extremely important band that must be mentioned when discussing The British Invasion of the 1960’s is The Yardbirds. This group went through a great deal of lineup changes throughout the years and these lineup changes resulted in the band having three different iconic guitar legends play with them. These three guitarists were Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page. Had it not been for The Yardbirds, these three infamous guitarists may have never been introduced to the world and reached the level of fame that they have.
Meanwhile, in California, another group known as The Beach Boys were making history and producing timeless classics as well. Their hit “Good Vibrations” has been said by some to be the most innovative single from the decade of the 1960’s. Interestingly, the track doesn’t follow a familiar structure like AABA which was used on the majority of The Beatles hits, or the standard verse, chorus, verse structure that The Rolling Stones often used. The Beach Boys are most well known for their use of intricate vocal harmonies; this technique of harmonizing layers of vocals was a staple of The Beach Boys sound.
Bob Dylan is another American musician that started his career in the 60’s that must be mentioned. His hit “Like A Rolling Stone” was named #1 Song Of All Time by Rolling Stone Magazine. Dylan’s style has influences from folk, rock, and blues, fused into his own concoction. John Lennon from The Beatles has admitted on numerous occasions that Dylan was a major influence on Lennon’s writing style and had it not been for Dylan many of The Beatles greatest hits wouldn’t exist.
There are many, many more musicians and bands that had tremendous impact on the 1960’s besides the select few mentioned here. As stated before, this decade was one of the most important in sculpting the genre of rock n’ roll and it is definitely worth it for individuals to do their own research on this time period and how it changed music.
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**A few listening ideas for the sound of the sixties**
The Beatles – Yesterday
The Beatles – Hey Jude
The Beatles – Yellow Submarine
The Beatles – Eleanor Rigby
The Beatles – Paperback Writer
The Rolling Stones – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
The Rolling Stones – Paint It Black
The Rolling Stones – Sympathy For The Devil
The Rolling Stones – Jumpin’ Jack Flash
The Rolling Stones – Honky Tonk Women
The Yardbirds – For Your Love
The Yardbirds – Shapes Of Things
The Yardbirds – Heart Full Of Soul
The Yardbirds – I’m A Man
The Yardbirds – Boom, Boom
The Beach Boys – Good Vibrations
The Beach Boys – California Girls
The Beach Boys – Wouldn’t It Be Nice
The Beach Boys – Amusement Parks U.S.A.
The Beach Boys – Barbara Ann
Bob Dylan – Like A Rolling Stone
Bob Dylan – Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
Bob Dylan – Mr. Tambourine Man
Bob Dylan – All Along The Watchtower
Bob Dylan – Blowin’ In The Wind
Cream – Sunshine Of Your Love
Cream – Crossroads
Cream – Strange Brew
Cream – I Feel Free
Cream – White Room
The Animals – House Of The Rising Sun
The Animals – We Gotta Get Out Of This Place
The Animals – Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood
The Animals – Bring It On Home To Me
The Animals – It’s My Life
The Kinks – You Really Got Me
The Kinks – All Day And All Of The Night
The Kinks – Tired Of Waiting For You
The Kinks – Set Me Free
The Kinks – Sunny Afternoon
Johnny Cash – Ring Of Fire
Johnny Cash – I Will Miss You When You Go
Johnny Cash – Bonanza!
Johnny Cash – I’d Still Be There
Johnny Cash – The Streets Of Laredo
The Temptations – My Girl
The Temptations – I Can’t Get Next To You
The Temptations – I Wish It Would Rain
The Temptations – Beauty Is Only Skin Deep
The Temptations – All I Need
Sly & The Family Stone – Everyday People
Sly & The Family Stone- Dance To The Music
Sly & The Family Stone – I Want To Take You Higher
Sly & The Family Stone – Hot Fun In The Summertime
Sly & The Family Stone – Sing A Simple Song